Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel (Russian: Михаил Александрович Врубель;March 17, 1856 - April 14, 1910, all n.s.) is usually regarded as the greatest Russian painter of the Art Nouveau movement. In reality, he deliberately stood aloof from contemporary art trends, so that the origin of his unusual manner should be sought in the Late Byzantine and Early Renaissance painting.
" 1 Early life
" 2 Controversial fame
" 3 Decline
" 4 Works
" 5 External links
Vrubel was born in the Omsk city (Siberia), in a military lawyer's family and graduated from the Law Faculty of St Petersburg University in 1880. Next year he entered the Imperial Academy of Arts, where he studied under direction of Pavel Tchistyakov. Even in his earliest works, he exhibited striking talent for drawing and highly idiosyncratic outlook. Although he still relished academic monumentality, he would later develop a penchant for fragmentory composition and "unfinished touch".
Demon Seated in a Garden, 1890
In 1884, he was summoned to replace the lost 12th-century murals and mosaics in the St Cyril church of Kiev with the new ones. In order to execute this commission, he went to Venice to study the medieval Christian art. It was here that, in the words of an art historian, "his palette acquired new strong saturated tones resembling the iridescent play of precious stones". Most of his works painted in Venice have been lost, because the artist was more interested in creative process than in promoting his artwork.
In 1886, he returned to Kiev, where he submitted some monumental designs to the newly-built St Volodymir Cathedral. The jury, however, failed to appreciate the striking novelty of his works, and they were rejected. At that period, he executed some delightful illustrations for Hamlet and Anna Karenina which had little in common with his later dark meditations on the Demon and Prophet themes.
1905 he created the mosaics on the hotel "Metropol" in Moscow, the centre piece of the facade overlooking Teatralnaya Ploschad is taken by the mosaic panel, 'Princess Gryoza' (Princess of Dream).
The Swan Princess (1900)
While in Kiev, Vrubel started painting sketches and watercolours illustrating the Demon, a long Romantic poem by Mikhail Lermontov. The poem described the carnal passion of "an eternal nihilistic spirit" to a Georgian girl Tamara. At that period Vrubel developed a keen interest in Oriental arts, and particularly Persian carpets, and even attempted to imitate their texture in his paintings.
In 1890, Vrubel moved to Moscow where he could best follow innovative trends in art. Like other artists associated with the Art Nouveau, he excelled not only inpainting but also in applied arts, such as ceramics, majolics, and stained glass. He also produced architectural masks, stage sets, and costumes.
The Artist's Wife (1898)
It is the large painting of Seated Demon (1890) that brought notoriety to Vrubel. Most conservative critics accused him of "wild ugliness", whereas the art patron Savva Mamontov praised the Demon series as "fascinating symphonies of a genius" and commissioned Vrubel to paint decorations for his private opera and mansions of his friends. Unfortunately the Demon, like other Vrubel's works, doesn't look as it did when it was painted, as the artist added bronze powder to his oils in order to achieve particularly luminous, glistening effects.
In 1896, he fell in love with the famous opera singer Nadezhda Zabela. Half a year later they married and settled in Moscow, where Zabela was invited by Mamontov to perform in his private opera theatre. While in Moscow, Vrubel designed stage sets and costumes for his wife, who sang the parts of the Snow Maiden, the Swan Princess, and Princess Volkhova in Rimsky-Korsakov's operas. Falling under spell of Russian fairy-tales, he executed some of his most acclaimed pieces, including Pan (1899), The Swan Princess (1900), and Lilacs (1900).
In 1901, Vrubel returned to the demonic themes in the large canvas Demon Downcast. In order to astound the public with underlying spiritual message, he repeatedly repainted the demon's ominous face, even after the painting had been exhibited to the overwhelmed audience. At the end he had a severe nervous breakdown, and had to be hospitalized to a mental clinic. While there, he painted a mystical Pearl Oyster (1904) and striking variations on the themes of Pushkin's poem The Prophet. In 1906, overpowered by mental disease and approaching blindness, he had to give up painting.
Hamlet and Ophelia 1883
The Virgin and Child 1884
Angel with Censer and Candle 1887
Flowers in Blue Vase 1887
Demon seated in the garden 1890
Fortune teller 1895
Flight of Faust and Mephisto 1896
Artist's wife in a stage dress 1898
Nadezda Aleksandrovna Sabella-Vrubel 1900
The Swan Princess 1900
Pearl oister 1904
Six-winged Seraph (Azrael). 1904
Six winged Seraph (after Pushkin's poem Prophet), 1905
Portrait of Valery Bryusov. 1906
" Mikhail Vrubel Gallery
" The Bogatyr (Hero) is a decorative oil on canvas panel painted in 1898. It is displayed in The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Fine arts museum in his native city Omsk is entitled in honour of Vrubel